You or your child is a senior in high school. Despite those other options that come with graduating from high school, college is among the most popular options for soon-to-be graduates. This also brings forth another commonality among future college students. College costs are continually rising, and each year colleges and universities raise tuition and overall college costs while scholarship abilities either have declined or stayed the same. Household income is no longer sufficient to fund a college education, and borrowing money from lending institutions is difficult to do as well. So, what other options are available for college funding? Gratefully, the government has set in place the ability to use student loans and the FAFSA as a means to funding a college education. Read on for more information on student loans and the FAFSA.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid
The extensive name of the application used to grant college students funding for school can be shortened to FAFSA. FAFSA is a form that every college student, regardless of the college level, is recommended to complete to receive federal funding. Funding usually comes from federal grants and loans. The FAFSA is used in determining how much aid each student is eligible for according to income and school costs. In order to fill out the FAFSA, there is a variety of information that is needed for the application to go through successfully. These items can be found on the tax documents of yourself or your parents. Those factors include, but are not limited to household income, assets, number of people in the household, expenses, and number of individuals attending college. Never let your circumstance stop you from filling out the FAFSA. Many individuals may be surprised at the amount of aid they can receive from the government. It takes a matter of minutes to complete the application, and the results could be very surprising.
Filling Out the FAFSA
If you are banking on student loans and the FAFSA to fund your college education, you must have required documents to successfully complete the application process. The application can be completed either online or by paper and mailed in. Below are the required items and documents that you will need:
- Driver’s license or state-issued identification card
- You and/or your parents’ income tax return
- Record of all earned income (found on the W-2 form)
- Financial statements
- Investment records
- Status of your citizenship
It is recommended that for the most aid possible, fill out the FAFSA as soon as taxes are filed. However, you can start the process before your taxes are completed. Just make sure to go back to complete the process. Once you are ready to submit the application for processing, you will be prompted to create a pin to sign the document if done electronically. If the application is done on paper, just sign the document and send it back for processing.
After completing the application, you will be sent either an emailed copy or a mailed copy for your student aid report (SAR), which will inform you whether or not all of your information was entered correctly or if you need additional information to complete the process. If want to avoid making mistakes during your final FAFSA submission, consider downloading a worksheet that can be used for practice. If everything is filled out correctly and in accordance with the tax information that was submitted to the IRS, the findings from the application will be sent to your desired educational institution, and funding will be determined based on the school’s costs. It will simply amaze you at how much student loans and the FAFSA are responsible for funding educational costs. Below are other tips that will come in handy when completing FAFSA:
- Makes sure to fill out all sections leaving none blank. If the number is zero, put a 0 in the blank.
- Make sure that all documents are signed by all associated parties either by signature or electronic pin.
- Read carefully and understand what information is needed before filling in the blank. Double check before submission.
- Leave yourself copies of each completed form before submission. Online submissions will prompt you to print the application. Make copies of hard-copied submissions before placing in the mail.
- Be mindful of your state’s deadline to complete the application. The earlier, the better.
What Loans Are Offered?
There are a variety of loans that are available through FAFSA that do not require repayment until after graduation. If you are depending on student loans and the FAFSA to fund your education, read on to learn more about each loan.
- Stafford Loan – these loans come from the US Department of Education. They are either subsidized or unsubsidized. If eligible for the subsidized loan, interests will not be added until after graduation. Unsubsidized loans build interest immediately.
- PLUS Loan – this loan is offered to the parents of college students and is also given by the US Department of Education. Parents must undergo a credit check to be eligible for the loan and may be required to have a co-signer as well.
- Perkins Loan – these loans are given by the individual schools based on financial assistance needs shown through FAFSA. This loan is required to be paid back within 10 years.
College funding does not have to be a headache. Student loans and the FAFSA are set in place to help individuals pay for college and not have to worry about repayment until months after graduation. Do not worry about having the money to pay for college when the government is willing to help through student loans and the FAFSA.